Caked in dudely burl and post-Church of Misery riffage, Phoenix, Arizona, sludge rockers Twingiant follow their 2012 full-length, Mass Driver, with the brash dual-guitarisms of the Sin Nombre EP. The five-track collection is self-released and built on cement-solid riffs from guitarists Dave Natkin and Nikos Mixas and the beard-filtered growls of bassist Jarrod LeBlanc, who takes a cut like the shorter “La Haine” and pushes it beyond riff rocking into territory more aggressive, yes, but also more engaging in its stomp, duly punctuated by drummer Jeff Ramon.
Modern stoner metal has produced a number of acts working in a similar vein, but Twingiant prove able to navigate the EP without sounding redundant or losing the listener’s attention, the seven-minute “Cloaked in Black” taking Alabama Thunderpussy-style riffs out of the heartland and into a beating with a later slowdown and Ramon‘s fervent crash, answering back the thud of the opening “Pelisneros,” somewhat friendlier in its initial fuzz and early Down (think “Stone the Crow” in a different, less whiteboy-soul context), with Twingiant‘s angriest blows. I realize there are a couple Southern metal comparison points, but Sin Nombre doesn’t operate entirely in that sphere and it’s the contrast the vocals bring to a cut like “Pelisneros” that makes it harder to classify — the sweet leads and brutal growls playing off each other as the groove takes off and the ensuing “Fossilized” actually winds up working in a similarly creeping atmosphere to some of what New Zealand’s Beastwars were able to bring to their latest work, Blood Becomes Fire, with LeBlanc‘s bass playing an especially prevalent role in the second half of the song amid rasping, guttural growls and swirling leads.
But any way you slice it, Sin Nombre is heavy as hell and it knows it. It was made to be heavy and it turned out to be exactly that. A sample of serial killer/hitman Richard Kuklinski – that’s him talking about hate in the break of “Pelisneros” — only furthers the Church of Misery feel, but closer “Ricky X R.I.P.,” which seems to be a recording of someone (presumably the titlular Ricky X, in whose memory the track is dedicated) doing a radio show — and pretty recently, going by some of what he played — gives a surprisingly poignant end to a release full of ballsy riffs and brash grooving.